If you have not been to a Wegmans, your life may be sadly incomplete. Your soul is perhaps empty and searching for purpose. Your taste buds will never experience the joy of quality cheese and all that accompanies it. Ok, maybe that is a little over the top, but you get my drift.
Every two weeks or so Chip and I grab a large cup of coffee, hop in the car, and head to Wegmans in Dewitt, New York. The music filled, coffee accompanied 2 hour and 8-minute, 132-mile drive is a meager price to pay for a sublime and peaceful grocery shopping experience.
As a sidebar note: Wegmans has mastered the art of comfortable, safe, and stress-free pandemic shopping. The stores are clean, stocked, and peaceful. I do not know how Wegmans hires their staff, but I have never met anyone in their stores from the fishmonger to the beer department who is not well informed and ready to lend a hand.
It is not “just cheese.” It is never “just cheese.”
Wegmans doesn’t think so either. They are all about the cheese. In an article on ediblefingerlakes.com, the author, Donna De Palma explains Wegmans Cheese Caves as the nation’s first to launch their own cheese ripening facility:
If you’re a cheese lover, you may want to pick up a round of “1916,” a tart, tangy and slightly sweet aged goat’s milk cheese ripened with loving care in Wegmans’ high-tech cheese caves located in Rochester.
Named to honor the year the grocery chain was founded, 1916 is the brainchild of Wegmans affineur—a person who ages cheese—Eric Meredith, who discovered the subtle flavors of goat’s milk cheese while living and working in Roanne, France. “I fell in love with this cheese; pure goat’s milk cheese that’s creamy yet so silky,” Meredith says.
According to Meredith, Wegmans’ 1916 comes to its cheese caves from Vermont Creamery as a green cheese. “We get it on Day 2, stop the aging process, then it’s shipped to our cheese caves,” he explains.
Once on-site, the young cheese goes through an 18-day process in a temperature, humidity, and outside-airflow controlled environment where it’s unboxed, turned by hand and nurtured until fully ripened.
Ms. De Palma continues:
Although Wegmans’ cheese caves aren’t underground, the 12,300-square-foot center has a brie room and seven individual caves, each between 185 to 200 square feet. Only one type of cheese is ripened in each cave at a time so flora from one type never mix with those of other kinds.
Wegmans plans to find more cheesemakers to partner with right here in the United States who can deliver fresh cheese for ripening. They’ve joined forces with Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to develop artisanal cheeses and to educate producers in New York State about food-safe cheese.
In our ever so humble opinion.
Cheese asserts its rightful place in the center of so many dishes and snacks. A charcuterie board focused around one specific type of cheese takes on a life of its own. The accenting meats, nuts, fruits, and sweets should compliment the flavor and focus of the centerpiece cheese. Wine pairing takes a life of its own and personally, I say drink whatever makes you happy.
Let’s review Wegmans Cave-ripened 1916 Aged Goat Cheese.
- Price point: $9.99 for 4.25 ounces.
- Calories spent: 100 calories per one ounce serving. (But who really eats just one ounce?)
- Cheese knife rating: This cheese earns a 5 out of 5 knives!
My advice is to drive expeditiously to the nearest Wegmans and pick up a Wegmans Cave-Ripened 1916 Aged Goat Cheese. It will not disappoint.
Visit the Wegmans cheese selection online at shop.wegmans.com
Remember, cheese heals!
Special thanks to: Edible Finger Lakes-Donna De Palma is a freelance features writer who specializes in food, farms, green topics, travel, and lifestyle. This piece is from our dairy-focused Fall 2015 issue.